Samuel Sipepa Nkomo, the chairman of Associated Newspapers of Zimbabwe, said the editor of the Daily News, Geoff Nyarota, was fired for supporting a 10-day strike that had crippled the publication of the paper for nine days.
Nyarota had been quoted in the British newspaper, the Guardian, as saying that his firing was a trade off for the registration of the paper under the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act.
The paper said ANZ was pressured to fire Nyarota in order to obtain the licencing necessary to continue publishing in 2003.
Nkomo said Nyarota was “booted out because he forked out Z$9.4 million from his own pocket to pay ANZ workers who were on strike”.
Nkomo dismissed Nyarota’s attempt to blame the government for his dismissal saying: “We are greatly saddened by this attempt to twist what is clearly a labour matter between Geoffrey Nyarota and ANZ into a political issue.”
“ANZ has not applied to register under AIPPA, because ANZ’s lawyers are making final touches to a court application to challenge the constitutionality of the registration provisions.
“No trade-off is possible for us on the legitimacy of AIPPA,” Nkomo was quoted as saying.
Viewing cable 03HARARE8, MEDIA REPORT: WHY NYAROTA WAS FIRED; HARARE
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
UNCLAS HARARE 000008
DEPT FOR AF/PDPA FOR DALTON, MITCHELL, SIMS AND FOR AF/S
NSC FOR JENDAYI FRAZER
LONDON FOR GURNEY
PARIS FOR NEARY
NAIROBI FOR PFLAUMER
E.O. 12958: N/A
SUBJECT: MEDIA REPORT: WHY NYAROTA WAS FIRED; HARARE
¶1. On December 31, 2002 Associated Newspapers of Zimbabwe
(ANZ), publishers of the “Daily News,” fired Geoffrey
Nyarota, the paper’s much-lauded founding Editor-in-Chief.
Local and international media outlets have since been
speculating about what caused this sudden editorial shake-
up at Zimbabwe’s only independent daily newspaper.
¶2. In an article published in the January 2 edition of
the British-based “Guardian” newspaper, Nyarota alleges
that he was dismissed as a “trade off for the registration
of the ANZ titles” under the controversial Access to
Information and Protection of Privacy Act (AIPPA). Nyarota
implies that the ANZ board were pressured by the Ministry
of Information and its Media Commission (responsible for
licensing both media houses and individual journalists) to
fire Nyarota in order to obtain the licensing necessary to
continue publishing in 2003. This version of events also
appears in the January 3 edition of the weekly Zimbabwe
¶3. However, on the front page of the January 3 edition of
the “Daily News,” ANZ management explains that Nyarota was
dismissed for allegedly supporting a ten-day industrial
action that crippled the newspaper and prevented its
publication for nine days. According to the Executive
Chairman of ANZ, Samuel Sipepa Nkomo, Nyarota was “booted
out because he forked out Z$9,4 million from his own pocket
to pay ANZ workers who were on strike.” Nkomo has also
dismissed Nyarota’s attempt to blame the government of
Zimbabwe for his dismissal saying: “We are greatly saddened
by this attempt to twist what is clearly a labor matter
between Geoffrey Nyarota and ANZ into a political issue.”
¶4. “ANZ has not applied to register under AIPPA, because
ANZ’s lawyers are making final touches to a court
application to challenge the constitutionality of the
registration provisions. No trade-off is possible for us
on the legitimacy of AIPPA,” Nkomo is quoted as saying at a
press conference in Harare yesterday (January 2). The
January 3 edition of the government-controlled daily “The
Herald” also carried a similar story on page one under
headline “Nyarota blames government for dismissal.”
¶5. Comment: Nyarota’s dismissal from the “Daily News” has
dominated the Zimbabwean media this week. Post will
continue to monitor the story and to speak to the actors
involved in order to clarify the true cause of this
editorial shake-up. Like many readers, we will be
scrutinizing the copy of the “Daily” in coming weeks to
determine whether its new editorial team will abandon
Nyarota’s fiercely independent and critical stance.